Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse.

a movie reel
I really enjoyed Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse. It was the first movie I ever saw twice in the theater. The second time was fun because I was the only one in the theater.

I’m not a bona fide comic book aficionado by any stretch but I still appreciated the times when the Miles’ thoughts were showing up as literal thought bubbles early on. I also liked that it didn’t take itself too seriously. It was so much fun.

When I was watching the credits and think that the coolest job title was for Michael Dolan as color scientist.

I was looking at buying the movie, also a first that I decided that I wanted a copy of the movie as soon as I saw it. It looks like it takes some care to get access to the special features that are available. Hint, Amazon doesn’t have them. I’ll be streaming it on Vudu.

Zorro the cat and my mouse

A green thought bubble
Cats like their mice.

Zorro has taken to lurking on my computer desk. Sometimes she starts watching the mouse on the screen intently. Once in a while she even tries to bat at it with her paw.

Today I noticed some ex-bird parts on the ground next to my car. Some cat had had a nice midnight snack and left me a couple souvenirs.

Windy Winter and Artificial Intelligence

A magnifying glass searching
I’ve noticed recently that it seems to be more windy here than in the past. Over the weekend, we had a strong wind storm with 60+ mph wind gusts. Yet I don’t think that the storm is proof. Just as a bitterly cold week doesn’t invalidate the process of climate change, a single wind storm doesn’t make it more windy. But I suspected changes before the weekend.

I mentioned my observation to a friend and he suggested I could use an AI tool to analyze the situation. I’m not convinced that artificial intelligence will help me get a better result.

The research in “Global trends in wind speed and wave height” by I. R. Young, S. Zieger, and A. V. Babanin indicates that it is an interesting topic. That paper in could help me identify the most useful questions. It also indicates that analyzing climate is not easy.

For my own situation, I need to find a source of historical wind speeds. Weather Underground has some data starting about 1940, but it isn’t easy to access. windfinder.com sells hourly data going back to 1999. I didn’t check the pricing of their data.

Another issue is what should I measure? Weather Underground has the maximum speed each day which is a good start, but may not answer my question. Windfinder has hourly data which is a finer granularity and might be more useful.

There would be a few more decisions I would need to make before I get an answer. When do I want to break between a historical base statistic to compare to recent data or should I look for a trend in the wind speeds? The number of data points in both groups can affect the statistical validity of my results.

Before I start looking for tools to confirm my observation, I need to make a lot of decisions. I don’t think an artificial intelligence tool will help me decide these prerequisites.

Artificial Intelligence is a trendy hammer, but not every problem is a nail.

It is time

Dark storm cloudsA mystical dream comes in sleep.

A black storm fills a sturdy reservoir. As the storm rages on, hope for mercy has become a hollow fantasy. Its winds destroy the innocent and powerless.

Time will stop.

Powerful barriers surround the proud, vain and arrogant. They know no storm can bring them down. The shadows hide their evil. Final victory will come soon.

Time has stopped.

In the darkest night, a dazzling power strikes with fury against the center of a hidden world.

Time starts again.

The reservoir descends into an abyss. A cataclysm collapses the barriers and washes away their filth. The night and its storm are over.

The mystery is complete. New vistas fill eyes with hope and joy.

Wake to see the sun rise on the horizon of a new world.

Left handed

Green coffee cup
A couple of months ago, I started doing journaling with my left hand. Before bed, I would write one page with my right hand and the reverse with my left. I’m not ambidextrous. I was wondering whether it would access a different part of my brain. I can’t prove that one way or the other. However, because it made me write more slowly, it made changes, if only because of that.

Last week, I got the clever idea of writing the journaling alternating hands. Write one word with the right, the next with the left, then with the right and so on. This style I can definitely tell that it’s different.

I have more of an idea of the whole sentence and things tend to flow together better. I also used the technique to write a poem and it came out so that it didn’t need so much editing. (Often when I write a poem, I take a long time editing and reediting which is tedious.

My left hand isn’t as legible as my right, although it’s getting better. My right hand’s writing isn’t that legible to begin with. lol

What was missing in my online classes?

Thought bubble
Over the past few years I had been taking Library Science classes at IUPUI. Like many library school programs, the classes were all offered online. I got great grades and enjoyed learning the material. However, I can compare those graduate classes to the graduate level math classes I took at IPFW. The math classes were in person on the university campus.

Reflecting on my experiences, there were important things missing at IUPUI. I believe that the problems are relevant to any online courses and not my specific experiences. Here are a few things the online classes lack:

There is very little interaction between me and the other students. We couldn’t talk in the hall before class to encourage each other or ask for help. There wasn’t a library with study rooms and a cafeteria to visit. There wasn’t a “I’m studying” place to contrast with a “I’m making dinner” place. That leads to poorer learning through distractions and interruptions. By missing these intangibles, the classes become sterile and mechanical.

Although the online classes had forums to ask questions or have a discussion, those can’t replicate the quick back and forth in a lecture. It isn’t possible to raise a hand and stop in the middle. In a conventional class, when someone asked a question, it could lead to follow up questions by someone else. The questions allow the instructor to switch gears if their presentation wasn’t working.

Unfortunately, the online system is a communication bottleneck. Language becomes a barrier as some students may not express themselves easily or be self-conscious of using bad spelling or grammar. In the math classes, I could ask a question that was confused and not feel intimidated. By the next week, everyone would have forgotten my clumsy explanation. In an online classes, the discussions are saved forever.

A limitation on the online classes is that all activities need be evaluated in points. If a task can’t turn into points, there is no incentive to do it. If it doesn’t affect your points total, extra work that would improve comprehension is unlikely to be done. The focus is continuously “what grade am I going to get?” Although that is present in the conventional class, it is front and center in an online class, You can see it every time you log in.

It is easy for the instructors in an online class to overwhelm themselves with too much material to grade. This is discouraging students when the work isn’t returned promptly.

Although I got good grades, it’s not clear how much of the lessons “stuck.”

There are lots of trade offs between online classes and those that are in person. For younger students, I think that the risks should encourage concern that an online class might be inappropriate. What is needed to compensate for these risks? What are best practices for online schools?